Study Guide

Emma Chapter Twenty-Six

By Jane Austen

Chapter Twenty-Six

  • Frank returns from London with a spiffy new haircut.
  • Emma spends some time thinking about the relative virtues of Frank and Mr. Knightley.
  • There’s no way that Mr. Knightley would ever do anything as silly as traveling to get his hair cut.
  • Even if Mr. Knightley did do something silly, he’d do it better.
  • And he’d know that it was silly. Frank can’t seem to tell the difference between normal and completely ridiculous.
  • OK, so Frank’s a diva. But he’s still loveable…right?
  • The night of the Coles’ party arrives.
  • Mrs. Bates comes to Hartfield to spend time with Emma’s father.
  • The big news at the party is that someone has given Jane Fairfax a piano. An anonymous someone.
  • Emma promptly imagines an entire romance between Jane and Mr. Dixon (her friend’s husband). She tells Frank all about it. He’s highly amused.
  • The two whisper together all through the night.
  • Other than that, the party is pretty much your everyday trivial social scene. Emma enjoys herself more than she thought she would.
  • Strangely, Frank keeps staring at Jane. When Emma calls him on it, he makes some snide remarks about Jane’s hair.
  • He even leaves Emma for a bit to say hello to Jane.
  • Emma wants to see what he says, but Frank’s body blocks the way.
  • After dinner, Mrs. Cole asks Emma and Jane to play on the piano.
  • Emma’s OK at playing the piano – but at least she’s learned to work what she’s got. She plays a few simple songs.
  • Surprisingly, Frank Churchill joins in singing. Emma’s secretly thrilled.
  • After Emma plays, Jane plays. Perfectly. Of course.
  • Frank asks Jane to play again. And again.
  • Mr. Knightley gets angry: Jane has a cold. She shouldn’t be straining to play so much.
  • Mr. Knightley convinces Miss Bates to tell Jane to stop.
  • Emma listens with Mrs. Weston, who has a new theory: she thinks Mr. Knightley is in love with Jane.
  • After all, who wouldn’t be?
  • Emma’s strangely put out by this thought.
  • Mrs. Weston’s hunch seems to be supported by the fact that Mr. Knightley seems very protective of Jane that evening.